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How to stop domestic violence in Spokane County: Local coalition lays out five-year plan

UPDATED: Wed., May 19, 2021

Annie Murphy, Executive Director of the Spokane Regional Domestic Violence Coalition, introduces the group's five-year plan Wednesday.  (Courtesy of Spokane Regional Domestic Violence Coalition)
Annie Murphy, Executive Director of the Spokane Regional Domestic Violence Coalition, introduces the group's five-year plan Wednesday. (Courtesy of Spokane Regional Domestic Violence Coalition)

The Spokane Regional Domestic Violence Coalition unveiled its five-year plan to curb violence in the county Wednesday, and it’s a five-pronged approach.

The coalition of community leaders collaborates with agencies including law enforcement, government officials, victim advocacy groups, treatment providers, school representatives and family organizations, according to the coalition’s website.

Annie Murphy, executive director of the coalition of partnered organizations, said the plan is part of the coalition’s broader End the Violence campaign. The written plan extensively documents all of the community groups and resources that reduce violence and help survivors escape it.

A crucial part of the plan is community education, which means getting accurate statistics to describe domestic violence’s reach in the county, Murphy said.

“Clear data and honest stories will gain support for policy and system change,” Murphy said Wednesday during a livestreamed presentation of the coalition’s plan.

The plan’s first step involves developing a coalition data dashboard that shows how many people in Spokane are experiencing domestic violence and in what ways, Murphy said. According to the plan, one of the goals of data collection will be to separate local norms in domestic violence from perceptions and stereotypes.

Step 2 of the plan is prioritizing safety, which the coalition defines as increasing awareness among Spokane employers who can then offer trainings about domestic violence in the workplace. The coalition will also collect court-related data, like the number of protection orders denied in the county, the average number of days between cases being filed and charge disposition dates in Spokane County Superior Court, the plan says.

Step 3 is increasing trust in the systems. The coalition plans to improve law enforcement interactions and increase community trust in police through pushing for officers’ continuing education, like training through the Criminal Justice Training Center, increasing school resource officer presence and filling seats on the Police Advisory Committee and Spokane County Sheriff’s Office Citizens Advisory Board.

Step 4 addresses equity in access to resources.

Hanncel Sanchez, of Mujeres in Action, said during the presentation that many Latino survivors feel uncomfortable accepting help because they don’t want to feed into stereotypes of immigrants coming to the United States to live on handouts.

“Even when survivors are navigating the system, it feels like the system was not made for them,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez also pointed to deficits in basic resources like food and housing that leave domestic violence survivors dependent and vulnerable to violence.

Step 5 of the group’s plan widens its scope to offering services for the whole family, including perpetrators who need treatment to prevent from re-offending.

Lacrecia “Lu” Hill, board president of Spectrum Center in Spokane and a City Council candidate, said Wednesday she watched her mom get hurt regularly by partners.

“The one thing I wanted as a little girl was for somebody to help them,” Hill said, “for my father to get better, for my mom to get better – it wasn’t necessarily to see them in jail or see another police officer arrive at our house, but see some long-term change in terms of them accessing health resources.”

One anonymous person, their face and voice distorted for video, said they ultimately murdered their partner after being arrested for a domestic violence assault. The person now works with perpetrators to avoid causing the same loss.

Donors who invested in the five-year plan’s formation included Providence and MultiCare hospitals, NorthernQuest Resort and Casino and Numerica Credit Union. The presentation laid out options for yearly donations for community members to help enact the plan.

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